This tour of Minneapolis brought to you by Beth Blair from The Vacation Gals.
The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are considered sisters because of their close proximity. While they often get lumped together as one, their vibes couldn't be any more different, and that's what makes the pair irresistible. Minneapolis is a trendy metropolis with extensive shopping and restaurants. It's also home to the new Twins Target Field stadium. St. Paul, the state capital, is smaller in contrast with a slower pace. The city is home to the Minnesota Wild hockey team and its history is revealed on Summit Avenue, which hosts a string of notable mansions and the stunning St. Paul Cathedral. While the two cities are rather diverse, they complement each other nicely and share a variety of family-friendly activities, hotels and restaurants.
Mall of America: If there's one thing you should do when visiting the Twin Cities, it is visit the Mall of America. Not many malls can compete with 520 stores, four department stores, 50 restaurants and a vast selection of attractions including a mirror maze, miniature golf course, underground aquarium, movie theatre, and the no-doubt highlight Nickelodeon Universe theme park. This indoor amusement park is open year-round and features full-size roller coasters and rides for tots to adults. Look for the Blue and Green Spots signs to find out when you can meet the famous Nickelodeon characters, such as Dora, Diego and Boots, Wonder Pets and SpongeBob.
Mill City Museum: As the former world's largest flour mill, Mill City Museum welcomes kids to learn about its history through a hands-on Baking Lab exhibit, Water Lab, an eight-story Flour Tower elevator and even samples of freshly made bread.
Science Museum of Minnesota: Kids of all ages get a thrill out of this interactive, hands-on science museum located in St. Paul. Families spend the day in wonder as they explore galleries and exhibits covering just about everything science related. Kids delight in learning about the inside of their bodies in the Human Body Gallery, watching a tornado form out of mist in the Experiment Gallery and digging for signs of the past in the Dinosaurs and Fossils Gallery.
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden: Wander onto the grounds of this classic Minneapolis attraction and you will notice families pushing strollers, having picnics and playing ball. You also can't miss the focal point of the park and one of the city's most famous landmarks, Spoonbridge and Cherry.
Como Park Zoo and Conservatory: A lot of love has gone into creating this 100-year-old St. Paul icon. Open year-round, this family-friendly zoo is rightly proud of its indoor and outdoor animal exhibits. During the warmer months families can enjoy riding the historic carousel, roaming the colorful gardens and playing miniature golf. The good news is admission is free, but a small donation is recommended. During the summer the adjacent Como Town Amusement Park opens, but keep in mind the rides do cost.
Minnesota Zoo: Minneapolis-St. Paul is lucky to have not just one zoo but two. Since it spans more than 500 acres, a visit to this zoo can easily take all day to cover the six themed areas. During the winter months the indoor exhibits are popular, and during the hot months kids can burn off their energy exploring the three long walking paths, playgrounds and even a water play area. The seasonal Wells Fargo Family Farm introduces visitors to farm animals and includes a petting zoo. If you're around in April be sure to stop in for the annual "Farm Babies" event, which features the newest zoo additions.
Radisson Hotel Bloomington: Who would have thought that families could surf in Minnesota? Well, it's true. Home to the Water Park of America, and not far from Mall of America, this Radisson hotel in Bloomington is the ideal family hotel with its non-stop entertainment. The indoor water park has Minnesota's only Flow Rider Surf Simulator, a ten-story, mile-long family raft ride, the Lake Superior wave pool and, Mom's favorite, the lazy river. The property also has two restaurants and a 5,800-square-foot arcade. Guest rooms even have bunk bed options for larger families.
The Depot: For families wishing to stay in downtown Minneapolis, this is the perfect place to retreat for the evening. This 1800s train depot has two hotels, the Renaissance and Residence Inn, as well as an ice skating rink, water park and a view of the gorgeous downtown skyline.
Axel's Bonfire: Lucky for us, Axel's Bonfire has seven locations across the Twin Cities including Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. This family-friendly restaurant has a fantastic children's menu featuring make-your-own pizzas and decorate-your-own sundaes. Every day between 3 and 6 pm is happy hour restaurant-wide, which means half-priced appetizers and pizzas. Talk about a happy mom and dad!
Mickey's Dining Car: Calling all The Mighty Ducks movie fans! Mickey's Dining Car is located in downtown St. Paul and is one of the city's most cherished landmarks. Not only has it appeared in many movie scenes, it's also one of the first diners to be built in the Art Deco style. The classic diner fare pleases the entire family with breakfast classics such as French toast and pancakes, and burgers and fries for lunch.
D'Amico and Sons: This is another location that is found throughout the Twin Cities. The walk-up counter has a list of gourmet specialty sandwiches, pizzas, salads and pastas, as well as a nice variety of kid-friendly items, plus kids get to end their meal with a homemade cookie. What's even better: on Sunday afternoons children eat for free.
Expedia customers with kids most often book these hotels when traveling to Minneapolis. Country Inn & Suites By Carlson Bloomington West Country Inn & Suites By Carlson Mall of America Hampton Inn & Suites MSP Airport/ Mall of America
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